|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5687th Meeting (AM)
Security Council must call on sudan to arrest, surrender two suspects
in Darfur war crimes, says international criminal court prosecutor
Tells Council Warrants Issued for Humanitarian Affairs
Minister Ahmad Harun; Ali Kushayb, Militia/Janjaweed Leader
Just a week before the Security Council’s planned mission to the Sudan, the top Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court today said the 15-nation body must take the lead in calling on the Khartoum Government to arrest two Sudanese men charged with a systematic and organized initiative to attack civilian populations in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have lost their homes in four years of fighting between government-backed forces and rebels.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, briefing the Council on latest developments in the investigation into those who bear the greatest responsibility for the worst crimes in Darfur, said his Office had conducted an independent and impartial investigation, focusing on incidents in 2003 and 2004 when the highest number of crimes had been recorded. He hoped the issue of the Sudan’s cooperation with the Court could be addressed during the Council’s upcoming mission.
The Council begins a week-long mission to Africa next Thursday with stops in five capitals, including, along with Khartoum, Accra, Ghana; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mission returns to New York on 21 June.
Laying out the steps leading up the issuance of arrest warrants by the Court’s Judges, he noted that evidence had been presented to the Judges on 27 February 2007. Two months later, on 27 April, the Judges had rendered their decisions, finding that the evidence presented offered reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former Minister of State for the Interior, and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, otherwise known as Ali Kushayb -- a militia/Janjaweed leader -- were criminally responsible for crimes against humanity such as persecution, murder, rape and torture, cruel treatment, and war crimes including rape, intentionally attacking civilians and pillaging.
Presiding over the “dire” situation in Darfur -- where some 4 million or two-thirds of Darfur’s population was in need of humanitarian assistance -- was the same individual sought by the Court, Ahmad Harun, now Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs. At a public meeting in 2003, Harun had declared that in being appointed to the Darfur security desk, he had been “given all the power and authority to kill or forgive whoever in Darfur for the sake of peace and security”.
The Judges had issued warrants for their arrest, he said, and the Registry was in the process of transmitting requests for cooperation to execute the warrants. “The Darfur situation requires a comprehensive solution,” he said, noting that his Office would complete its first investigation and continue to evaluate information about current crimes. As the Rome Statute emphasized, justice for past and present crimes would enhance security in Darfur.
Stressing that Council resolution 1593 (2005) required the “Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur” to cooperate fully with and provide necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor, he said that, since the start of the investigation, a “degree of cooperation had been forthcoming”. However, requests for assistance remained outstanding, including requests to question Harun and Kushayb.
The law required the appearance of Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb in Court, he added. The Council and regional organizations must take the lead in calling on the Sudan to arrest the two individuals and surrender them to the Court. The territorial State, the Sudan, had the legal obligation and the ability to do so. He counted on every State to execute an arrest should either of those individuals enter their territory.
With the Office moving forward to finalize its preparations for pre-trial proceedings against Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb, the key was their arrest and surrender, he said. The Office relied on the Council, the United Nations Member States, the States parties to the Rome Statute, and on its key partners -- the Africa Union and the League of Arab States -- to call on the Sudan to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb to the Court.
The meeting began at 10:19 a.m. and adjourned at 10:45 a.m.
LUIS MORENO OCAMPO, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, briefing the Council on his activities since December, said he had presented evidence to the Court’s Judges on 27 February 2007. Rendering their decisions on 27 April 2007, the Judges had found that the evidence presented offered reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former Minister of State for the Interior, and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, otherwise known as Ali Kushayb -- a militia/Janjaweed leader -- had joined together to persecute and attack civilians in Darfur.
He said the Prosecution’s case had demonstrated how Ahmad Harun had organized a system through which he had recruited, funded and armed militia/Janjaweed to supplement the Sudanese Armed Forces, inciting them to attack and commit massive crimes against the civilian population. The Prosecution’s case had also demonstrated that Ali Kushayb, by personally delivering arms and leading attacks against villages, was a key part of that system. Acting together they had committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Judges had issued warrants of arrest against Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb. In accordance with the Court’s decision, the Registry was in the process of transmitting requests for cooperation to execute the warrants.
The ongoing situation in Darfur remained alarming, with some 4 million people -- or two thirds of Darfur’s population -- in need of humanitarian assistance in the region, he said. There were some 2 million internally displaced people immensely vulnerable. Attacks against them and against international workers continued, as well as frequent impediments by the authorities to the delivery of assistance. Presiding over the dire situation was the same individual sought by the Court, Ahmad Harun, now Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs. That was the same man who, in 2003, at a public meeting, had declared that in being appointed to the Darfur security desk, he had been “given all the power and authority to kill or forgive whoever in Darfur for the sake of peace and security”.
Continuing, he said the law required the appearance of Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb in Court. That major challenge demanded the unconditional cooperation of all, and the Council and regional organizations must take the lead in calling on the Sudan to arrest the two individuals and surrender them to the Court. The territorial State, the Sudan, had the legal obligation and the ability to do so. He counted on every State to execute an arrest should either of those individuals enter their territory. He hoped that the cooperation of the Sudan with the International Criminal Court could be addressed during the Council’s mission to Khartoum.
“The Darfur situation requires a comprehensive solution,” he said. The International Criminal Court was doing its part. The Office would complete its first investigation and would continue to evaluate information about current crimes. As the Rome Statute emphasized, justice for past and present crimes would enhance security in Darfur.
The Darfur situation had been ongoing for just over two years, he added. His Office had conducted an independent and impartial investigation. The Office had focused on some of the most serious crimes and the individuals, who, according to the evidence collected, bore the greatest responsibility for those crimes. The case focused on incidents in 2003 and 2004 when the highest number of crimes had been recorded. Crimes had been committed in Darfur in the context of an armed conflict between the Sudanese security forces, along with the militia/Janjaweed, against organized rebel groups, including the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. From 2003 on, the conduct of the counter-insurgency campaign had resulted in attacks against mainly the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa civilian population who were deemed to support or sympathise with the rebels. Acting together in the campaign, the Sudanese Armed Forces and militia/Janjaweed had carried out attacks in Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala, approximately between August 2003 and March 2004.
They had not targeted any rebel presence within the villages, he noted. Rather, they had attacked those villages based on the rationale that the civilians were supporters of the rebels. That strategy became the justification for mass murder and mass rape of civilians who were known not to be participants in any armed conflict. It had achieved the forced displacement of entire communities.
In its decision on 27 April, the Pre-Trial Chamber had determined that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb were criminally responsible for the crimes described by the Prosecution, namely 51 counts of crimes against humanity such as persecution, murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, cruel treatment, unlawful imprisonment, pillaging and forcible transfer of civilians and war crimes such as rape, intentionally attacking civilians and pillaging.
Ahmad Harun had been appointed Minister of State for the Interior shortly after the April 2003 rebel attack on the Al Fashir airport, he said. He had also been tasked to head the “Darfur security desk”, mobilizing and recruiting militia to serve in counter-insurgency efforts while in Kordofan, South Sudan, in the 1990s. Ahmad Harun had recruited militia/Janjaweed and incited them to violence with full knowledge that they, often in the course of joint attacks with the Sudanese Army, would commit crimes against the civilian population. Ali Kushayb, “Aqid al Oqada”, or “colonel of colonels”, in the Wadi Salih locality of West Darfur, had personally led militia/Janjaweed during attacks on the four villages mentioned, presiding over summary executions and massive rapes.
The next step should be the arrest and appearance of Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb in Court, followed by proceedings relating to confirmation of charges, he continued. The investigation into the case continued in preparation for further proceedings. In parallel, to uphold its duties under article 68 (1) to protect victims and witnesses, the Office, in liaison with the Registrar, continued to monitor the security of witnesses and to implement protective measures. He reiterated in that context the importance of witness relocation agreements. The Office was also continuing to gather information about current crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in Darfur and was monitoring the spillover of violence in Chad and the Central African Republic, which were both States parties to the Rome Statute.
Emphasizing a number of concerns in that regard, he noted allegations in Darfur of indiscriminate and disproportionate Sudanese Government air strikes from January through April, with some villages bombarded for as long as 10 days. There were also reports of attacks against internally displaced persons, in particular the rape of women venturing outside the camps. There was information about local clashes, some allegedly motivated by efforts to reward those collaborating with the militia/Janjaweed. A preliminary judicial analysis was being conducted.
From the information gathered, it appeared that the parties to the conflict continued to violate international humanitarian law, he said. Attacks on the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), as well as attacks on United Nations staff and international workers were well documented. In just over three months, between early February and early May, 11 African Union peacekeepers or police officers had lost their lives and 5 had been seriously wounded. In addition, numerous aid workers had been assaulted or beaten, their vehicles hijacked. Attacks on humanitarian personnel were prohibited under international humanitarian law and constituted a war crime within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, he emphasized.
Those bearing the greatest responsibility must be brought to justice, he said. It was of particular concern that Ahmad Harun, an individual sought by the Court for atrocities committed against the civilian population, was still today the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs with the responsibility to monitor and affect vulnerable people, and the international personnel helping them. “I ask the Council to address this unacceptable situation during their mission to Khartoum,” he said.
Turning to eastern Chad, he said that his office had gathered data on reported attacks in the villages of Tiero and Marena this past March, as well as attacks on refugee camps. Incursions from militia and/or Janjaweed from the Sudan had also been reported, along with the presence of Sudanese rebels in Chad and the presence of Chadian rebels in the Sudan. Any alleged crimes taking place in 2007, since Chad had become a State party to the Rome Statute, were subject to International Criminal Court jurisdiction, he added.
On 22 May, his Office had announced the opening of an investigation in the Central African Republic, and that probe was focused on crimes allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003, where there was a large-scale commission of crimes, including “mass rapes”. He said his Office was also monitoring the situation in the Central African Republic, including reports of violence in the north since 2005. On the border with Darfur, there had been incidents of violence in the context of allegations of support to rebels from the Sudan.
He said that, since his first report to the Council in June 2005, the Prosecutor’s Office had devoted considerable efforts to assessing whether its case was admissible under the Statute. “Let me emphasize, as I have in the past, that this admissibility assessment is not a judgement on the Sudanese justice system as a whole, but an assessment of whether the case selected by the Prosecution has been or is being investigated by the Sudan,” he said. The Prosecution had followed closely all accountability initiatives of the Sudanese authorities, and, in a series of exchanges with the Government, the Office had sought updates on the status of national proceedings. The Sudanese Justice Ministry reported on 9 December that 14 persons had been arrested in relation to incidents in South Darfur and West Darfur. Ali Kushayb had been one of those named in connection with those incidents, he added.
He went on to say that, during a 27 January to 7 February mission to Khartoum to analyse those developments, the Office had met with the Minister of Justice, the Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Justice, the Chief Justice of West Darfur and the President of the Special Court for West Darfur. The Office had also interviewed three special advisers of the Judicial Investigations Committee. “The Prosecution’s case is concerned with Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb joining together as part of a systematic and organized initiative to attack civilian populations in Darfur,” he said, adding that there was no investigation in the Sudan into such criminal conduct. No proceedings had taken place in relation to Mr. Harun, and the investigation of Mr. Kushayb did not relate to the same incidents as those investigated by the Office. It did not connect Kushayb to Harun, he said. The Sudanese investigations did not encompass the same persons and the same conduct that were the subject of the case before the Court. The Pre-Trials Chamber had concluded that the case against the two men fell within the Court’s jurisdiction and appeared to be admissible.
Stressing that Council resolution 1593 (2005) required the “Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur” to cooperate fully with and provide necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor, he said that, since the start of the investigation, a “degree of cooperation had been forthcoming”. However, requests for assistance remained outstanding, including requests to question Harun and Kushayb. In a 15 February letter, the Sudanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs had confirmed the Government’s refusal to allow such questioning.
He said that, while his Office appreciated the efforts of major interlocutors in Khartoum encouraging the Government to assume its responsibility, there had been no progress. In a 17 April letter, the Office had sought clarification from the Government as to its intention whether to cooperate or not. “No response was forthcoming; on the contrary, a number of statements were made publicly and continue to be made to the effect that the Government of Sudan would not work with the Court.”
He went on to say that, in line with the resolution, his Office met regularly with the African States and representatives of the African Union, and he informed the Council that the International Criminal Court President, the Prosecutor and the registrar had been invited to brief the African Union Permanent Representatives Committee on 1 March. Adding that he was grateful for the support of the African Union leadership, he announced that he would be meeting current African Union President John Kufuor, President of Ghana, on 20 June. Among others, he said that his Office was also regularly briefing the Secretary-General of the Arab League, as well as the League’s member States. “Their understanding of the independence and impartiality of the Office is, and will continue to be, crucial,” he added.
The Office was now moving forward to finalize its preparations for pre-trial proceedings against Mr. Harun and Mr. Kushayb, he said. The key was their arrest and surrender. He stressed that his Office relied on the Council, the United Nations Member States, the States parties to the Rome Statute, and on its key partners -- the Africa Union and the League of Arab States -- to call on the Sudan to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb to the International Criminal Court.
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